Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science - Biology



First Advisor

Dr. James Van Kley

Second Advisor

Dr. Dennis Gravatt

Third Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Farrish

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Don Pratt


Despite extensive research into forest succession, little research has been directed to long-term studies. The fundamental properties of succession remain unclear and further research into terrestrial vegetation and an accounting of drivers in specific ecosystem types is required. This study addresses change in plant communities from five ecosystem types in two east Texas National Forests over a 20-year period. An analysis of 30 sample stands yields results due to various ecosystem drivers of vegetation change and uncovers plant community responses in multiple ecosystem types over this period. This research provided three key results: 1) that vegetation composition change occurs more dramatically in longleaf pine, dry-mesic and mesic ecosystem types; 2) that vegetation composition change can vary within different organizational levels of an ecosystem; and, 3) that long-term studies of these areas will emphasize species-time-area relationships that can effectively link vegetation composition/dynamics to disturbance drivers. This study is part of a growing body of research on long-term studies relating to forest succession. This project will serve as a benchmark that will contribute to future research on similar topics.

Key words: ecology, succesion, biodiversity, disturbance, long-term studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Included in

Biology Commons



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